At the heart of the Powerhouse

A new community could soon be created in Leeds as part of a strategy to turn the city into the major economic centre of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse.

Wednesday, 12th August 2015, 6:42 pm
An aerial view of Holbeck, Leeds

Offices, bars, restaurants, homes and leisure facilities could soon be built on the Holbeck Portfolio, a collection of prime development sites in the heart of Leeds.

The site has been acquired by Commercial Estates Group (CEG) for £9.6m, and the new owners are drawing up plans to regenerate the area.

Jon Kenny, a spokesman for CEG, told The Yorkshire Post: “This is a key city centre destination and CEG’s plans will mix some of the area’s historic architecture with iconic new buildings befitting of a new city quarter.

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“The proposals, which are set to be unveiled later this year, include a vibrant mix of high quality offices, residential, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities putting this new quarter on the Leeds city map as a place to live, work and visit.

“CEG has been considering the opportunity presented by these assets for some time based on our success elsewhere in the city, in particular Kirkstall Forge.

“This is a real opportunity for our key landholdings to drive the regeneration of this wider area, supporting Leeds’ aspirations to be the economic driver of not only the region, but the entire Northern Powerhouse.”

RBS has sold the portfolio, which totals 5.86 acres, in a deal that was completed by Yorkshire-based property specialist Gent Visick.

The portfolio comprises seven separate plots in Holbeck Urban Village on the Leeds South Bank. The plots include a mixture of cleared land, income producing and vacant industrial premises.

Rupert Visick, director of Gent Visick, said the freehold sale of the Holbeck Portfolio represented “the next piece of the jigsaw” for the ambitious future vision for the area.

Mr Visick said: “CEG was committed to securing the Holbeck Portfolio – against strong opposition – and has delivered against what it pledged when it made its initial approach, completing the deal in just six weeks. CEG now has a clear vision to take this strategic asset forward.”

CEG attempted to acquire the Tower Works site in Leeds in 2005 but was outbid by the Government Agency, Yorkshire Forward.

CEG is already developing another major site in Leeds. The group acquired the 56-acre brownfield site, Kirkstall Forge, in 2003.

Investment is underway to open a new railway station on the site later this year, unlocking the potential for more than 1,000 new homes and 400,000 sq ft of commercial and leisure space.

Mr Kenny said: “We sought to acquire the Tower Works development a number of years ago and have been assessing the potential for the South Bank regeneration area for more than a decade.

“When the opportunity arose to acquire the Holbeck Portfolio, we were in a very strong position to swiftly appraise the opportunity and invest.

“We look forward to working closely with Leeds City Council to invest in Holbeck and will be unveiling our exciting plans for this prime redevelopment opportunity in the coming months.”

Despite planning permissions on several plots having lapsed, the portfolio has historically had planning consents for a variety of uses, including offices and residential.

Richard Dunn, partner at Sanderson Weatherall, added: “With further development of the nearby Tower Works moving forward, plus Marshalls Mill and the Round Foundry Media Centre being home to a thriving creative and digital industry, this sale is an important one for the continued renaissance of Holbeck Urban Village and the wider South Bank area.”

Robin Dixon, of RBS, said: “We have been delighted at the high level of interest for this portfolio from both local and national developers.

“To have achieved a sale in such a short timescale is extremely satisfying.”

CEG was advised by Fox Lloyd Jones.

Paul Fox, from Fox Lloyd Jones, said: “We, alongside CEG identified the importance of acquiring the Holbeck Portfolio in its entirety, rather than piecemeal, to create the platform for a comprehensive regeneration of this hugely important part of Leeds city centre.”